Breathing New Life Into Old Bikes

Story by Rachel McKeen / Photo by Eric Murphy

Do a mental count of all your bicycles. 

Now imagine the extra space in your garage or shed if you could rid yourself of that one bike you’re still holding on to that’s in pretty good shape, but never used. 

Now think about the beautiful new bike you could buy if only you donated the old one, perhaps to a good cause. 

What if you knew that someone really wants that old bike?

This year, Cycle Salvation is campaigning to collect 150 bikes for Canada’s 150th birthday.

You are encouraged to drop off your unused or under-used bikes of any style or size, at Dovercourt Recreation Centre at 411 Dovercourt Ave, or Causeway Work Centre at 22 O’Meara St., and of course, at Cycle Salvation at 473 Bronson Avenue.

When you visit their small workshop at the corner of Gladstone and Bronson, you will discover a treasure-trove of refurbished bikes from their winter crop of donations — on sale at great prices. You will also discover Cycle Salvation is different than most bike shops because it is a member of the Causeway group of social enterprises which employs people who struggle to find jobs due to mental illness and other challenges.

As a business, Cycle Salvation strives to achieve a triple bottom line:  people, planet, and profit. Its job? To take in donated bikes which are then refurbished by clients from Causeway and sold at a reasonable price. By donating your bike, you are giving someone that chance to really thrive in a job that is meaningful.

Cycle Salvation operates under the belief that profit should never come at the expense of well-being. Employees at Cycle Salvation strengthen their work-related skills, learn bike mechanics, and gain confidence and hope.

Graham, an employee, says having these bikes to work on impacts people’s lives in such profound ways.

“Having the confidence to get out of bed in the morning . . . to come and do your job, and just feel like you have a purpose — I think that definitely goes a long way towards helping people.”

Cycle Salvation contributes to the already vibrant cycling culture in Ottawa, holding pop-ups in the spring and summer months around the city where the public can learn about the basics of bike maintenance or buy an affordable good quality bike.

The environmental goals are met by keeping bikes out of landfills and scrap yards and getting them back on the road.

Paul Wylie, operational manager sets the prices of refurbished bikes to cover the cost of the workshop and employees. The main focus of the business is to support its employees as they grow and develop.

“Our shop runs on two key parameters – donations from the general public and our staff to refurbish these. Both of which are the lifeblood of the operation. Donations will help ensure that we can continue to operate with our current roster of 11 clients.”

For those higher quality bike donations, Causeway will provide a charitable tax receipt for any donated bicycle with an immediate resell value of $500 or more.

If you do find those bikes in their dusty resting places begging for new life and a little TLC, consider a donation to support this socially minded business n

Contact Paul Wylie at 613-288-1454 if you are interested in donating your bike.

Learn more about Cycle Salvation or stay up to date on the latest news at

Follow them on Twitter @Cycle Salvation or like them on Facebook. For more information about Causeway and social enterprise,